the warmest year on record?

Aug 2014 Climate Deviations

NOAA’s data indicate that temperatures were above historical norms in August across most of the globe.

2014 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record. Surprising to hear for us East Coasters, who enjoyed a mild summer. From Scientific American:

“If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’sNational Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday.

“If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’sNational Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday.

The NOAA report comes on the heels of NASA’s temperature data showed that August was the warmest August ever.

the science of autumn


As we get ready for the splendor of fall foliage, Compound Interest explains the science of autumn leaves with his signature infographics:

Carotenoids and flavonoids are both large families of chemical compounds. These compounds are present in the leaves along with chlorophyll, but the high levels of chlorophyll present in the summer months usually masks their colours. As the chlorophyll degrades and disappears in autumn, their colours become more noticeable – both families of compounds contribute yellows, whilst carotenoids also contribute oranges and reds.

Check the link for the graphic and more detail.

do gut bacteria prevent allergies?

Intestinal tracts of germ free mice and mice given clostridia bacteria. The higher levels of mucus in the clostria tracts is thought to prevent allergens from leaking into the bloodstream.

Science News brings word of a recent PNAS report on gut bacteria and allergies. In the study, researchers gave a group of mice antibiotics to wipe out their gut microbiome. Feeding the mice peanuts after this treatment seemed to induce allergy-like responses, that weren’t observed in mice who didn’t receive the treatment. The researchers gave the mice Clostridia bacteria to replenish the microbiome, and the response diminished.

Cathryn Nagler of the University of Chicago and colleagues treated some mice with antibiotics to wipe out the animals’ gut bacteria, and then triggered an allergy-like response to peanut particles. Peanuts revved up the germ-free animals’ immune systems — but mice with normal gut bacteria didn’t have the bad reaction.

Giving germ-free mice a dose of Clostridia bacteria made the animals more like their counterparts with normal gut flora. The microbes encourage mouse cells to make mucus that helps seal up the intestines, keeping food particles from slipping into the bloodstream and riling up the immune system, the researchers found.

The researchers suggest that this might also hold true for humans.

carbs fuel colon cancer in mice

Carbohydrate rich diets, especially refined carbohydrates, have been linked to higher rates of colon cancer in the developed world, when compared to developing nations. A new report in the journal Cell provides insight into how this might come to be. Science News explains:

To probe the link between colon tumors and gut microbes, the researchers treated mice engineered to be prone to colon cancer with antibiotics. By eradicating intestinal bacteria, the drugs hindered malignant lumps of cells called polyps from growing in the lining of the colon and small intestines. The team then noticed that feeding the rodents a diet low in sugar and starch also reduced the growth of polyps.

The mice had two gene mutations often linked to colon cancer in people,one of which derails a cell’s ability to fix errors that arise during DNA replication, known as the mismatch DNA repair system.

A mismatch repair deficiency causes cells in the lining of the colon to divide quickly, explains study leader Alberto Martin, an immunologist at the University of Toronto. Bacteria and carbs speed the process, he says, damaging the genome and leading to tumor growth.

The researchers surmised that when microbes feast on carbohydrates, the germs must produce a chemical that pushes colon cells lacking the ability to repair DNA mismatches toward uncontrollably multiplying into tumors.

The researchers discovered that gut bacteria process carbohydrates into butyrate, which can induce cancer in  APCMin/+MSH2−/− mice by allowing cancerous  MSH2−/−cells to proliferate uncontrollably in the colon.



benefits of water fluoridation

govt water fluoridation

Water fluoridation programs re-emerge as a controversial topic from time to time. Just last year it was a hotly debated topic in Portland, Oregon.  Compound Interest covers the benefits of water (and other) fluoridation programs:

The enamel that coats your teeth is made up primarily of the compound hydroxyapatite. This ionic compound consists of calcium ions, phosphate ions and hydroxide ions, and is also a major component of your bones. Enamel is well known for being pretty strong, but it can be slowly broken down and lose ions from its structure under acidic conditions. This is known as demineralisation. Our body has a built-in countermeasure for this, and can replace the ions lost with ions from our saliva, in a process known as remineralisation. However, sometimes the rate at which this replacement occurs is below that at which the ions are being lost. When this happens the pores in the tooth can become enlarged, and cavities and tooth decay can result.

Fluoride ions can help arrest this process. They can be incorporated into the hydroxyapatite structure, replacing the hydroxide ions and forming fluorapatite. Fluorapatite is stronger than hydroxyapatite, and is also more resistant to acidic conditions. This means it can greatly delay the onset of cavities and tooth decay, and this is the reason why there’s a clamour to add it to water supplies.

Much more at his blog, including a nice infographic.